“Pinan Flow System: karate kata application for beginner to black belt” By John Titchen
INFO: Packed with information this book, the first in a four volume series, examines the first two Pinan / Heian kata. With practical application drills based on the study of the reactions of students to common forms of aggression and violence in high pressure scenario simulations, as well as research into violent crime, it contains a detailed analysis of the attributes that makes techniques effective, an exploration of the origins and purpose of the Pinan forms, and a discussion of some of the myths surrounding kata, their purpose and application. Each drill is clearly illustrated with photos and explanatory text.
This book approaches the kata by looking at the common factors that unite effective combative approaches rather than focusing on minor stylistic differences, and as a result provides applications and training drills suitable for everyone, regardless of style or grade. The application drills initiate from movements that simulate the body’s natural flinch responses to attacks or common fall back positions, and teach karateka how to close and create distance while moving freely between ballistic and grappling techniques incorporating close range striking, trapping, throwing, unbalancing and locking movements that mirror the forms.
The Pinan Flow System refers to the ability to train karateka to flow seamlessly between ballistic and grappling responses using techniques and tactics embedded in the kata.
The Pinan Flow System illustrates why the Pinan / Heian set, practiced by so many Karateka, are an important and misunderstood part of the legacy of Okinawan karate to modern martial artists. Far from being simply kata for beginners, they reflect the distillation of the knowledge and tactics of the father of modern karate, and are an essential training tool and technical manual for beginner and black belt alike.
Foreword by Iain Abernethy
Kata is arguably the practise that defines karate. Take away the kata (and take off the gi) and karate becomes largely indistinguishable from any other martial art that prioritises striking. If we acknowledge the central place that kata has in karate, we then need to ask if that place is justified?
For most karateka, kata is practised as a grading requirement, for competition, or as a means of maintaining “tradition”. The link to combat or self-defence is often inferred, but there is no demonstrable link. If the karateka is primarily training for personal challenge, sport or cultural and historic interest, then the way kata is commonly practiced will be in line with their training goals. However, what about the karateka who has effective self-protection as their primary training goal?
For the pragmatically minded karateka, does kata deserve its central place? While most karate would like to answer in the affirmative, I think we need to be honest and say that, in general terms, it does not. This is not because of some inherent flaw with kata itself, but the way in which it is largely approached. Kata is practised as a “martial dead end” where kata is practised simply to get good at kata. It is for this reason that many martial artists slight kata. Many karateka even question the practise with some abandoning it completely. To my way of thinking, this is a great tragedy as kata has so much to offer the pragmatically minded karateka. What is needed for the value of kata to be realised is for kata to be part of a demonstrable process: a process such as the one John Titchen presents in this book.
For the value of kata to be fully realised it needs to be part of a process that understands both the nature of kata and the nature of civilian violence. For the practically minded karateka, kata shows us its full value only when the problem (civilian violence) and the solution (the kata) are understood in relation to one another, and which gives rise to a process that includes solo-practice, realistic application, an understanding of underlying principles, and practise in free flowing situations. Even when the application of kata is considered, most karateka fail to practice something meaningful because one of the above elements is missing. Not so here! What John presets is a holistic way of approaching kata which addresses the realities of civilian violence. What you will find in these pages (and the pages of subsequent volumes) is one of the most functional ways to approach kata out there.
I’ve known John for a long time and know him to be one of the best there is when it comes to effectively simulating the realities of self-defence in training. He is also one of the most in-depth thinkers I’ve came across when considering the role and nature of kata. When you combine those things with John’s skill as a writer you end up with a very special approach to kata and a must read book.
I believe this book will provide much food for thought for the seasoned pragmatically minded karateka, as well as providing a superb “as is” approach to kata application that those new to the field can easily pick up and run with. Above all else, I also think this book will prove to be a pivotal part of the ever growing movement which is seeing kata retaining its central place in the practise of the self-defence orientated karateka. Not because of nostalgia or misplaced “tradition”, but because it works! This truly is an excellent book that karate will benefit from.
Paperback version coming soon!